COVID-19 STRATEGIC TESTING LETTER 8/19/21
Dear Parents and Guardians,
Thank you for all of your support in helping Shelby County Public Schools keep students healthy during this time. Our staff has heard many feelings regarding some of the COVID mitigation strategies that we must use right now and we appreciate your willingness to work with our school nurses and show kindness to them when they reach out to you.
While we know that nothing we implement alone will be 100% effective in stopping the transmission of the COVID-19 virus, we are striving to implement as many strategies as we can. Handwashing alone will not stop the spread. Masks alone will not stop the spread. Cleaning alone will not stop the spread. Vaccinations alone will not stop the spread. Spacing students apart while still being in a classroom alone will not stop the spread. But, when layered together, each of those things becomes more effective in reducing the spread of this virus and keeping our kids healthy and in school.
Proactive COVID Testing: Strategies to KEEP STUDENTS in SCHOOL
Today, Shelby County Public Schools is introducing another strategy towards this effort. Beginning next week, Wild Health Laboratories will be providing, at no cost, COVID-19 testing to our district. All of the COVID-19 testings would be done using an anterior nasal swab--this means the swab would be inserted just inside the nose and would not be invasive or painful in any way. There will be two types of testing offered, rapid testing and PCR (polymerase chain reaction). Please note that this testing is by parental consent only and is NOT mandatory or required.
- District-Wide Bi-Monthy Testing: This strategy is to test all staff and students (with signed consent forms) twice per month to identify early positive cases who are contagious but may not be showing symptoms. Research has shown that using this method in large group settings can reduce the overall cases within that group.
- Test-to-Stay Strategic Testing: This strategy would offer parents the option of having their student-tested every 48 hours instead of quarantining when exposed at school. As long as the student continues to test negative, then the student remains at school learning. This strategy will use a rapid testing device with an 84% accuracy rating. The testing would be at no cost to families. This strategy can only be implemented with signed consent. **There may be limitations to the use of this strategy.**
- Symptomatic Testing: Testing can be offered if a staff member or student presents to the nurse with symptoms of COVID-19. If the rapid test is negative. A PCR test that detects the genetic makeup of the COVID-19 virus will be sent out to a Wild Health Laboratory facility and those results will take 24 hours to return. The PCR test has a 98% accuracy rating. Both the rapid and PCR testing will be at no charge to the staff member or student.
I hope you will consider participating in the testing strategies as outlined above. Our goal is to utilize the testing as another layer in reducing the spread of COVID and minimize the necessity of student quarantines.
If you would like to participate, please complete the attached consent form and return it to your child’s school. Copies of the consent form can also be obtained at your child’s school. Thank you again for being a partner with Shelby County Public Schools as we work together to make this a great school year for students.
Dr. Sally Sugg, Superintendent
Dr. Traci Earley, DNP, District Health Coordinator